Charlton Athletic Women's manager Riteesh Mishra says that it will be an exciting moment for him and his side to get back playing football, as they begin their Championship campaign with Crystal Palace the visitors to The Oakwood on Sunday.
He explained: “Regardless of who we play, it was going to be an exciting moment for us to get back playing. The fact that it’s against Crystal Palace, one of our biggest rivals, makes it even more exciting.
“We’ve got a really good record against them. Regardless of who it’s against, everyone is looking forward to getting back and playing.”
Following the premature end to the 2019/20 season, Mishra and his side will want to start off on a positive note against Crystal Palace, but the manager knows this season will be tough, saying: “It’s going to be a challenging season, every team has gone through different phases since the lockdown. There are a few clubs that have moved to full-time, which makes our league even more competitive. Then the part-time clubs have strengthened, too.
“I think, for us, our main aim is to do better than we did last season, both on and off the pitch. I’m really excited about the group we’ve got at the moment, and I feel like we can do well. It’ll be hard, women’s football is getting stronger and stronger.
“If you look at the league we’re in, there are no teams that you can consider to be weak. There’s obvious teams who have strengthened, particularly the likes of Liverpool, Leicester City, and others who have also invested quite a lot. I include ourselves in that, too. Teams will fear us, and will be wary of us. We’ve just got to prove against Crystal Palace that we’re a team to be feared.”
The 2019/20 season was a disappointing one for the Addicks, but Mishra and his staff have made additions to the side, and will hope they’ll hit the ground running on Sunday.
“We knew what areas we wanted to improve on, but the main objective was to keep the majority of the squad together. We did that. We brought in four or five players who, most importantly, are great characters. They’ve settled in really well. They’ve all got great attitudes, who want to learn and work. For me, that’s been the best thing. Team spirit seems spot on at the moment. We just need to take that into the season.
“I’ve known a lot of the players for a few seasons now, and I feel stability is vital in football. The likes of Grace [Coombs], Charlie Clifford, those who have been here a number of years really help me as a coach. They help the culture we have is followed by all those who join the club. They mean a lot to us, and we’re delighted that they’ve stayed.”
Article by Ryan Payne